International Women’s Day: Flexibility is important for equality
International Women’s Day – marked annually on 8 March – is an opportunity to celebrate women’s achievements and take action for equality. Flight Centre Business Travel (FCBT) not only supports equality, but it’s ingrained in our organisation.
Here, four of our people share their experiences with equality, and a common theme that emerges is flexibility.
Flexibility and empowerment are key
FCBT’s Head of Account Management, Josh Grocke, has been with the Flight Centre Travel Group (FCTG) for 15 years. He currently manages a team of six, with an even ratio of male and female, although that’s an irrelevant fact to Josh: “I don’t tend to look at gender or race as an indicator, I look at a person. A good person is a good person; a good skill set is a good skill set.”
Josh’s approach was never more evident than when he hired Kim, who was pregnant at the time of interviewing.
“I didn’t think that was a big deal; Kim was open and honest about her timelines and we knew she was the best candidate for the role. We needed the best skill set so for me it was a no-brainer. I was happy to manage the time that she would be on maternity leave, because I knew it would be worth it when she returned,” says Josh.
Josh believes that flexibility and empowerment are the keys to successful teams working together: “The best employees are the ones who are flexible and working around life; those who need to come in late make up for it by being really productive. I can empower them to do their best and we work together to achieve what we need to.”
Paving the way for future mothers
Claire O’Mahony is one such new mother who has been able to navigate returning to work thanks to flexibility. The Team Leader looks after a team of four and returned to her role after 14 months maternity leave, albeit in a part-time capacity.
“I just knew I wasn’t ready to go back full time while my daughter is still quite young. I was keen to spend time with her during the week, so working four days lets me do that. And I work one of those days from home, which means I can do daycare drop off later and pick up earlier,” says Claire.
Flexibility has always been encouraged across Claire’s team, with other members having scheduled work-from-home days as well, however the part-time nature of her position is new territory.
“I’m the first part-time Team Leader for New South Wales, so the arrangement is quite a new concept for us, and I feel as though we’re paving the way for future people in my position,” says Claire.
Flexibility is beneficial for business and staff
Claire’s manager, Steve Kaleta, is the Area Sales Manager for NSW, and has been with FCBT for seven years. He manages a workforce of 60 people and has a fairly even gender balance but says that people are people: “I don’t look at males or females as different. I’m lucky to have great people and leaders in my teams,” says Steve.
With a number of women going on and returning from maternity leave in recent years, Steve has realised that flexibility is beneficial for both FCBT and their employees.
“When we’re busy, some of our employees on leave return to temp for a day per week; it helps them to ease back into work and helps the teams out too,” says Steve.
And when it comes to the travel industry, Steve can’t imagine a workplace without women: “In my opinion, women are the best people to have in the industry. They have great people skills, create inclusive teams and make fantastic leaders.”
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Learning from female leaders
Learning from female leaders is something that Candice Marsh, FCBT’s Area Sales Manager for Queensland, says has proven instrumental throughout her career: “Early in my career when I was having doubts about my abilities, a female mentor said to me: ‘Don’t give up; learn your craft and keep going’. It was simple advice, but I’m glad I listened, because I don’t know where I’d be if I didn’t.”
Having been with FCBT for 10 years now, Candice worked her way up the ranks and has been in her current role for four years. 75% of the people in her teams are female, but like Josh, the ratio isn’t what matters.
“It doesn’t matter who you are or what role you’re in; you should be treating everyone equally. When you have that equality and remove stigmas, you can achieve amazing things,” says Candice.